I shouldn’t have left you without a strong rhyme to step to

One of my best friends in the world is very fond of the line above from Eric B and Rakim’s I Know You Got Soul. It seems appropriate for this quick revisit of the old url.

For some reason, I haven’t been blogging in over a year. My last post was about moving back from the US to Finland.

A shit ton of stuff has happened since then.

We’ve settled back into life in Finland pretty well. The relocation was very stressful and we miss Arizona very much sometimes, but it has been good overall. We made the right choice.

On the musical front I have been very lazy. I still have the bug itching at me, but I have not been playing. I put one song on Soundcloud last year, but I took it off after a while. Everything on https://soundcloud.com/pboaz was written and recorded in the US.

I have no calluses on my fingers, which is shameful.

Big news? The kids are getting older, my lovely wife is dangerously close to finishing her masters’ thesis and I have a fantastic new job. I don’t like to mix in too much detail about my personal or working life into this blog, but let’s just say that the job I have now could perhaps be the best job I have ever had. It’s early days, but all the ingedients are there.

Well. TTFN. I still enjoy writing, so maybe I *will* do some more blogging. Let’s see.

In the meantime, “run long and taper” :)

 

Polar Bears of Helsinki

So,  here we are… 2013 and all that.

The last few weeks have been mainly taken up with upping sticks from Scottsdale, Arizona (in the middle of the desert) to Helsinki, Finland (in the middle of the sub-Arctic winter). It is dark, freezing and frankly has been a tough experience all round. Major culture shock for us and the kids. We’ll adjust, but these first couple of weeks have been a grind.

I have also had to say goodbye to my guitars for a few weeks. They’re on the way from the US in an air shipment that arrives on Monday. But I was reunited with my old 1994 vintage (?) Japanese Strat! It has spent the last two years in a mate’s basement. I cracked the case, picked it up and although the trussrod clearly needs tightening it is in really good shape. It was even in tune!

Sadly, I won’t be doing anything musical for several weeks or even months yet. The immediate priority has been getting us and the kids over jetlag That’s just about done. The second priority is to organize our living arrangements. In Scottsdale we had a 120 square meter, three bedroom, two bath apartment. In Helsinki we have a 58 square meter one bedroom flat. In the long run we need to move out of the city and get more space, but we probably won’t be able to do that for a year or so. So we have a lot of organizing to do.

When the dust has finally settled (around Easter?) I’ll really be looking forward to playing guitar and writing some more songs.

$100 Guitar and 30,000 Miles

This is a cool story. In October 2010, two east coast guitarists, Nick Didkovsky and Chuck O’Meara bought a cheap guitar together and then proceeded to record  a song and then send it out to other guitarists to do the same. It’s now been through the hands of 60 musicians and finally made it’s way home.
100guitarproject

Each guitarist was allowed one week to practice, compose and record before sending it on. An album of these songs will be released in the New Year and will include some famous names, such as Nels Cline of Wilco.

Such a cool idea.

Original story on the NPR Blog.

Thanks to Paresh for drawing my attention to this!

Bugera V5 Update

Well, I’ve been living with the Cheap Choob Bug now since Monday. I am nursing a slight cold today so, working at home. While Mrs ATG took Nipper 1 to school, with Nipper 2 in tow, then I had my first opportunity to switch the power attenuator to full power.

Earlier in the week I’d played it on the lowest attenuator setting (0.1W output) and the tones, though crunchy, were not that impressive. Similarly with the headphone output, they are a little uninspiring. The overall feel was muddy and dark, even with the tone control wide open.

Since playing it for half an hour on the night I got it, I have been mainly playing through my iPad with JamUp pro and headphones.

Today, with the attenuator turned off, is a different story. I tried it with both my Tele and Agile AL and really enjoyed the crunchy, over-driven sounds that come out of those tubes. The Tone control also begins to function. The cleans lack the sparkle of a nice Fender, but the dirtier tones are really satisfying.

And it’s loud. 5W of tube power easily competes with 20W of solid state (it’s to do with the way tubes distort and how that distortion is interpreted by your hearing). This would easily be OK for louder jam sessions and possibly rehearsing with a drummer (although that might be pushing it).

Overall I am pretty happy and look forward to firing it up again for a proper workout when I again have the apartment to myself.

Over one year of blogging…

I just realized, I have now been blogging here for over a year. Wahay!. During this time I’ve written a fair few articles about guitars and tangentially-related stuff.

By far the most popular post I wrote was about Bradley Wiggins and his guitar collection. Posted just as he won the Tour de France, this boosted traffic from less than 10 hits a day to several hundred, at least in the immediate aftermath of the tour. Until recently this probably still brought in half the traffic. If you Google “Bradley Wiggins guitars”, then I’m not the top hit, but I am on the first page.

My other greatest hit was just some pictures of my new Agile AL-3010SE Les Paul style guitar, which at just over $300 new is just staggeringly good bang for the buck. I linked to that post from the Agile Guitar Forum. Hundreds of folks have been to check it out — including several hits from Korea, which I like to think could be the manufacturers. If so, then I’d just like to say “Hi Guys!” and “Thanks for making such an excellent guitar!” and “I hope that you pay your craftsmen and women a decent wage!”

Other pages, frankly get little or no readership. But I still think this has been a worthwhile pursuit. I enjoy writing and this gives me an outlet.

In the second year of ATG, then I resolve to

  • Write more about playing and music, less about guitars and gear (after we move back to Helsinki I will have to anyway tame my GAS)
  • Try and be more interesting. Perhaps prepare more instead of just rambling (like this)
  • Branch out to other, tangentially related topics, or just other stuff I find interesting e.g. coffee, live music, Finland, whatevs

If you’re reading this, I thank you.

Happy Thanksgiving

NS

Cheap Choob Bug

Image

So, after the departure of my little Mustang I modelling amp, I am currently amp-less in the US. One of the reasons I had for getting rid of it was that the tones, although OK, were not significantly better than GarageBand on the Mac or JamUp Pro on the iPad and it was a pain the in neck to use — adjusting tones without a PC connected was frankly impractical.

(By the way JamUp Pro by Positive Grid for iPad is absolutely awesome, combining some tasty amp models with effects and practice functionality such as a tuner, looper with pitch shift and the ability to painlessly import tracks from iTunes to play along with — and you can even get a pedal unit from Griffin called Stompbox that works with it…)

But I miss not having an amp, and I’ve always wanted a tube amp. We’re also soon to leave the US and return to Finland where everything is much more expensive, so the time to get one is now.

Back in the day when I did my amp geekout prior to getting he Mustang, I worked out that the Blackstar HT1 or HT1R might be a good bet (1W amp with headphone output and aux in),  but another interesting one was the Bugera V5 — a 5W amp with the same features, but significantly cheaper. On Sunday night I was invited to a pre-Black Friday event at the Scottsdale Guitar Center and I ended up putting in order for the V5, discounted from $200 to $150, or about $163 after tax.

Opinion on the ‘Bug’ online appears divided. Most user reviews are positive,  but some folks seem to really hate Bugera and their parent company. Behringer, labeling their goods as cheap Chinese crap.

But I am kind of a GAS bottom feeder, so this could suit me down to the ground. We’ll see!

Agile Pics

So here it is. Pretty cool, huh? Especially for the money. Feels GREAT to play. I love it.